Iraq says to take steps against Exxon over Kurdish deal

BAGHDAD Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:17am GMT

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BAGHDAD Nov 16 (Reuters) - Iraq will take steps to end Exxon Mobil's contract with the country after the U.S. oil giant signed a deal with semi-autonomous Kurdistan to explore fields there, a senior Iraqi oil official said on Wednesday.

"Exxon has violated the ministry directions and instructions concerning the companies working in Kurdistan," said Abdul-Mahdy al-Ameedi, director of the oil ministry's contracts and licensing directorate.

"It's a violation of the contract and the law. As a consequence the oil ministry will take steps to end the contract. But this operation will need arrangements," he said without giving further details.

Exxon has a multi-billion dollar contract with Iraq's oil ministry to develop its 8.7-billion-barrel West Qurna Phase One oilfield in the south.

Iraq's central government and Kurdistan are in a long-running dispute over oil and land rights, and Baghdad has said in the past all oil deals signed with the Kurdistan region would be considered illegal. (Reporting by Suadad al-Salhy; writing by Patrick Markey)

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